Co-Designing Digital Technologies for Cultural Heritage Preservation with Indigenous Communities in Namibia

Research output: Book/ReportPh.D. thesis

Abstract

The thesis is the result of a particular approach to co-designing digital systems with OvaHerero Elders in Namibia. These systems are intended to both preserve Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) and become dissemination tools for OvaHerero youths. To handle this challenge, I adopted a Participatory Design methodology, which prioritizes the aim that people engaged in practices, also become co-designers of the technology which either support or substitute current practices. There are two major reasons for this choice. First, I am an outsider to the practices and life-world of the OvaHerero and am thus unable, working alone, to accurately construct a system that is in line with the curators’ perspectives. Second, technologies such as those used for recording are constructed within a different context; thus, ICH might be misrepresented when captured in digital form. Therefore, ICH curators, in this case OvaHerero Elders, must be made aware of these potential misrepresentations. This thesis work reports on the many challenges, conditions and outcomes of co-designing digital systems with OvaHerero Elders in rural Namibia.

The thesis work consists of a large body of publications from a long-term project; this work is presented here in the form of an extended summary. From a total of 23 documents published from 2012 to 2015, six first-authored, peer-reviewed, high-ranking conference papers, one book chapter and one journal paper have been selected for assessment. The selected publications contribute mainly to the fields of Participatory Design, Human-Computer Interaction and ICH preservation. The summary is structured by the pragmatic, theoretical and political rationales articulated by Greenbaum and Halskov (1993), as useful lenses to understand the methodology of Participatory Design and consequently also how the thesis work can be viewed.
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The thesis is the result of a particular approach to co-designing digital systems with OvaHerero Elders in Namibia. These systems are intended to both preserve Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) and become dissemination tools for OvaHerero youths. To handle this challenge, I adopted a Participatory Design methodology, which prioritizes the aim that people engaged in practices, also become co-designers of the technology which either support or substitute current practices. There are two major reasons for this choice. First, I am an outsider to the practices and life-world of the OvaHerero and am thus unable, working alone, to accurately construct a system that is in line with the curators’ perspectives. Second, technologies such as those used for recording are constructed within a different context; thus, ICH might be misrepresented when captured in digital form. Therefore, ICH curators, in this case OvaHerero Elders, must be made aware of these potential misrepresentations. This thesis work reports on the many challenges, conditions and outcomes of co-designing digital systems with OvaHerero Elders in rural Namibia.

The thesis work consists of a large body of publications from a long-term project; this work is presented here in the form of an extended summary. From a total of 23 documents published from 2012 to 2015, six first-authored, peer-reviewed, high-ranking conference papers, one book chapter and one journal paper have been selected for assessment. The selected publications contribute mainly to the fields of Participatory Design, Human-Computer Interaction and ICH preservation. The summary is structured by the pragmatic, theoretical and political rationales articulated by Greenbaum and Halskov (1993), as useful lenses to understand the methodology of Participatory Design and consequently also how the thesis work can be viewed.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherAalborg Universitetsforlag
Number of pages200
ISBN (Electronic)978-87-7112-264-0
DOI
StatePublished - 2016
Publication categoryResearch
SeriesPh.d.-serien for Det Teknisk-Naturvidenskabelige Fakultet, Aalborg Universitet
ISSN2246-1248

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